Click here to [close]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Daniel Blacksberg Trio - Perilous Architecture (NoBusiness, 2014) ****

By Martin Schray

I like trombones. It was mainly Johannes Bauer who did it for me. Watching him and Paul Rutherford in Peter Brötzmann’s März Combo and later with Jeb Bishop in Brötzmann’s other seminal larger formation, the Chicago Tentet, was absolutely spectacular. The deep tones, the physicalness the instrument demands, the sweet and sassy warmth of the sound – of all the 'typical' jazz instruments I only like the bass clarinet more.

Daniel Blacksberg belongs to the younger generation of trombonists. Spanning avant-garde jazz, modern classical music, improvised music and klezmer, he is a musician who brings the trombone into new, foreign areas. Blacksberg plays old Hasidic melodies or hardcore punk (sometimes simultaneously) in projects as different as the Psychotic Quartet, Superlith or Haitian Rail.

However, when he wants to focus on his pure free jazz roots, he turns to his own trio with Matt Engle on bass and Mike Szekely on drums and to NoBusiness, where he has already released his first trio album Bit Heads in 2009 (one of the NoBusiness heads, Danas Mikailionis, said that this was one of his favorite albums on his labels).

Large parts of the album live from the sound of the low tones of trombone and bass on the one hand which is contrasted by Mike Szekely who is very discreet with the toms and the bass drum and rather focuses on cymbals (which reminds a bit of Robert Wyatt’s drum style after he had his accident) on the other. The effect is that the music sounds like wind blowing through the tree tops of a forest with an upcoming thunderstorm above it all. 

Perfect examples of this are "Arc of Circling Bodies", the first track, which is based on a drone of two notes, a reference point to which Blacksberg returns every now and then, while  the trio bounces lightly through the composition, or "Filament and Void", a fragmented dark blues abyss, into which the band goes down willingly just to rise like a Phoenix in the most elegant way.  The cool jazz elegance of "Scapegrace" and the hardbop velocity of "Roar of Mankind" are additional highlights before "Almost Negotiable", a challenging wrestling match between bass and trombone, closes the album.

And on top of it there is the cover: It’s like a Walker Evans picture from "Let us now Praise Famous Men", a detailed account of three farming families which paints a deeply moving portrait of rural poverty in the American South of the 1930s. The title “Perilous Architecture” refers to this cover but also to the music because the structures of the compositions are dangerous as well in a way that the three are trying to explore unknown territory and they do not know where the musical journey takes them. All about Jazz New York has called Blacksberg "a virtuosic technician with abundant creativity and a drive to engage disparate and unlikely scenarios." True that.

"Perilous Architecture" is available on vinyl in a limited edition of 300 copies only. You can buy it from Instantjazz.

Listen to them here:


Colin Green said...

This is a great album.

I've always rated Albert Mangelsdorff very highly. A real pioneer of European free jazz.

Martin Schray said...

Absolutely, Colin. Unfortunately, I haven't seen him live.

Colin Green said...

Nor will you. Thank goodness for his recordings.

Richard said...

Hey Colin and Martin

Any thoughts on a best Mangelsdorff album?

Colin Green said...

I'd recommend "birds of Underground" and "outspan No. 1" with the Brotzmann trio.